Somalia firm woos Optelian to roll out broadband across East and Central Africa

Somalia’s fibre-optic specialist Somcable is spinning out a broadband network penetration across the East and Central African region. The company is partnering with Optelian, a trusted global provider of multi-technology optical networking solutions, in the venture.

The two will install an IP over Dense Wave Multiplexing optical network over 1,200 kilometres across the region.
SomCable’s chief executive Michael Cothill said his company had to evaluate different network architectures before settling on the next-generation IP over Dense Division Multiplexing Optical network.
Earlier this year, the company announced that by 2014, the whole Somaliland would have access to the next-generation broadband. The new project will support the voice and data traffic throughout the country.

A study by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) found ICT usage in Somaliland as low and limited to urban areas. Technology analysts expect the programme to improve Internet connectivity in the region thus paving way for affordable and enhanced Internet speeds.

The private sector has stepped up to increase access to communication technology across the country. According to the Optelian, once the project is completed, it will drive broadband adoption throughout the region as well as improve the lives of the citizens through affordable telecommunication services and creation of jobs.

In January this year, clashes erupted between Somaliland’s residents of Sayla district in Salal region and Somcable company personnel supported by local police — when SomCable was laying fibre optic cables from Djibouti. The said clashes were related to employment disputes as the residents accused SomCable of failing to consider them for employment.

Currently, the country has no regulatory body in the telecommunication industry, “a negotiated competition” rules. Service providers cooperate in the Somaliland Telecommunication Operators Association to agree on prices.
Telesom was the first telecommunication firm established in 2001. It offers Cellphone users with prepaid calls , monthly subscription , International Roaming, MMS, WAP via GSM and GPRS services. It is the leading firm in the sector with close to 90 percent mobile subscribers.
Other mobile phone providers in the country includes Telcom, Africa Online, Nation Link, Somtel and Soltelco.
However with the political instability in the country the level of making costs is low with international calls on mobile phones costing close to US$0.30 per minute which is five or six times lower than in most African countries.
SomCable, also known as Somaliland Cable, was founded in 2010.

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